Genoa secures safety on last day of longest Serie A season

ROME (AP) — Genoa secured safety on the final day of the longest-ever Serie A season, while Lecce dropped down to the second division yesterday.

Genoa beat Hellas Verona 3-0 to finish four points ahead of Lecce and ensure a 14th consecutive season in the top Italian league.

Lecce lost 4-3 to Parma, Brescia and Spal had already been mathematically relegated.

LONGEST SEASON

The coronavirus-delayed season ended almost 12 months after it started on August 24, 2019.

“The longest season in history ends today, in our country’s most difficult year in recent memory,” said Italy’s Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora.

At the start of the lockdown in March, Italy was the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe and has now registered over 35,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Genoa players celebrate after a goal during a Serie A football match against Verona at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium. PHOTO: AP

“During those weeks we really thought that the season should be stopped,” Spadafora said.

“But thanks to the series of precautions we took and the seriousness of the protocols put in place by the Italian football federation, the season was not only able to restart but also be completed.”

Due to the virus, the season was suspended for more than three months between March and June.

Juventus sealed a record-extending ninth straight title last weekend.

GENOA SAFE

Antonio Sanabria scored twice for Genoa, which also got a goal from Cristian Romero.

Still, it was a nervous finish with Genoa losing two players to red cards and ending with nine men to Verona’s 10.

Lecce, which needed to win and hope that Genoa did not, fought back from two goals down to equalise by halftime. But then Andreas Cornelius and Roberto Inglese restored Parma’s two-goal lead before Gianluca Lapadula pulled one back for Lecce.

OTHER RESULTS

Udinese beat eighth-place Sassuolo 1-0, Fiorentina defeated last-place Spal 3-1 to finish 10th, and Bologna drew 1-1 with Torino.